Exchange prices for electricity in the European part of the Russian Federation and the Urals in December returned to a significant increase, reaching at the moment a historical maximum of 1.8 thousand rubles. for 1 MW•h. A sharp jump occurred due to the simultaneous withdrawal of several NPP units for scheduled and unscheduled repairs. Generating companies included thermal plants, whose energy is becoming more expensive due to rising gas prices. Regulators claim that the “uncharacteristic” situation with the shutdown of a large number of nuclear power plants has ended and prices have already gone down.
Wholesale electricity prices in the first price zone of the energy market (the European part of the Russian Federation and the Urals) returned to growth again: since the beginning of December, the indicator has increased by about 12% yoy. The most noticeable increase in prices on the day-ahead market (DAM) occurred from December 19 to 26: the index, according to Kommersant’s estimates, grew by 20.6% year-on-year, to 1.7 thousand rubles. for 1 MW•h. And on Saturday, December 24, the historical price record was broken: the index amounted to more than 1.8 thousand rubles. per 1 MWh, exceeding the previous maximum of August 9, 2021. We are talking about prices for commercial consumers (for the population, tariffs are artificially reduced).
On the day-ahead market, power engineers sell actually generated kilowatt-hours. Generating companies use DAM revenue to cover variable costs, mainly fuel costs. In 2021, the revenue of energy companies on the DAM amounted to 1.08 trillion rubles.
Prices for RSV depend on supply and demand. Against the backdrop of a cold snap, the volume of purchases of electricity on the DAM in December increased relative to November, but remained virtually unchanged relative to December last year. From December 19 to December 26, according to Kommersant’s estimates, the volume of purchases on the DAM even fell by 3% year-on-year.
At the same time, the structure of energy generation changed in December: the supply of nuclear power plants decreased by an average of 2.8 GWh compared to November, Kommersant was told at the Council of Energy Producers (CPE, which unites the largest generating companies of the Russian Federation). Nuclear power plants sell electricity at any price prevailing on the market, and more expensive thermal power plants were switched on to cover their shortfall in generation. At the same time, since December 1, gas prices have been indexed by 8.5%, which has become one of the main factors in the growth in prices for the generation of thermal power plants, Maxim Dyakin from Vygon Consulting notes.
Rosenergoatom (part of Rosatom) told Kommersant that four units with a capacity of 3.6 GW at the Rostov, Novovoronezh, Leningrad and Balakovo stations were under scheduled repairs in December. At the same time, in December there were three unscheduled shutdowns for urgent repairs: the first unit of the Smolensk NPP (1 GW) was decommissioned on December 17–25, the fifth unit of the Leningrad NPP (1.2 GW) was disconnected from the grid on December 19 by the action of automation and switched on on December 27, and the first unit of the Rostov NPP (1 GW) was shut down on December 22 for one day by a false action of the protection of the reactor plant. The third unit of the Kalinin NPP (1 GW) is in forced downtime on December 13-29. Thus, on December 22, almost 8 GW of nuclear power plants immediately left the market.
The System Operator (SO, power system dispatcher) told Kommersant that in winter, as a rule, two or three NPP units are in scheduled repairs at the same time. “An uncharacteristic overlap of short-term unscheduled repairs in the current December was observed for a fairly short period, the maximum of which fell on December 22–24,” the SO notes.
The increase in DAM prices is mainly due to an unscheduled and significant decrease in nuclear power generation and, in part, the advanced indexation of gas tariffs for thermal generation, which replaced supplies from nuclear power plants, according to the Community of Energy Consumers. “There are no mechanisms on the electricity market that compensate consumers for the costs caused by a decrease in the reliability of generation, and fines for such failures in the capacity market are disproportionately lower than the costs to consumers for maintaining reserves,” the association says.
The FAS told Kommersant that they were analyzing the reasons for the rise in prices, the service had already sent inquiries to the Market Council (energy market regulator) and SO. According to the results of model calculations of the Market Council, it turned out that the price increase was influenced by a decrease in the generation of hydroelectric power plants and an increase in the supply of thermal power plants, the FAS said.
The Market Council confirms that the dynamics of the indicator was influenced by a change in the price structure of the supply of thermal power plants, due to a change in the composition of the included TPP equipment and, in general, an increase in the load of thermal power plants due to a “significant reduction in nuclear power generation”. In the second half of December, an additional factor was the decrease in renewable energy generation. The regulator notes that the peak values of the daily RSV index have been passed and prices are already falling.
At the same time, the PPA emphasizes that the growth of DAM prices still lags behind the growth rates of gas prices. The cost of gas, taking into account the July indexation by 5%, increased by 13.9% in total, while DAM prices in December rose by only 11.5% yoy.